AN OPEN LETTER TO CHRIS TUCKER

Posted in Rants on August 27th, 2007 by Ed

Mr. Tucker,

I know you're a busy box office star, but hopefully you can spare a moment to accomodate this heartfelt letter. I've not had much luck getting in touch with celebrities – Paul Anka hasn't taken my calls in years – but after seeing trailers for Rush Hour 3 I just had to try. Anyone who hasn't seen said trailer is welcome to find it of their own accord; I will have no part in anyone's decision to view it.

Chris, do you feel good about what you do? Not "acting," but the roles you choose to take. Are you completely ignorant of how you're portrayed or are you in love with the paychecks while dying a little bit on the inside every time you cash one? I'd like to spend some time around you, Chris. For instance, I would love to be on set while the director of the Rush Hour trilogy instructs you in your stagecraft. How does he explain his vision? Does he say "Chris, are you familiar with the golliwog stereotype? That's what I need here."? Or perhaps he is more direct and omits any higher-level cultural references, i.e. "Make sure you bug out your eyes a lot and pout your lips."

What do your scripts look like? Do they have actual lines (other than the "jokes") or do they just have vague descriptions like "insert Negro jive-talk here; dance."? Do they use artificial means or post-production techniques to make your voice more squeaky, or are those your natural chops? I wonder what level of improvisation takes place between you and co-star Jackie Chan. Given that the three films consist of exactly one joke played out ad infinitum ("Wow, that colored fellow sure is different than Asians!") it would seem that the director would need to rely on your creativity to continually produce new variations.

But the most important question, Chris, is my last: is there anything you actually refuse to do in these scripts? Is there some low-water mark of your dignity below which you will not venture? Honestly, given what you do in these films I shudder to think about what you'd refuse. I mean, what is your limit? What's "too far" for Chris Tucker? Was it a scene in which you danced a soft-shoe in a Step'n Fetchit costume to the tune of "Funkytown"? Or was it something about you wearing buck teeth and Tojo glasses while pretending to be Asian?

I really hope I can get some clarification. I know why you do what you do: the paycheck. When you do have pangs of conscience, you tell yourself that if you refuse, someone else will do it. Undoubtedly this is true; the audience of Rush Hour 3 seems like the kind of folk who'd generally posit that all them coloreds look the same. I understand your motives, but I think they're unhealthy. At this pace it's essentially a foregone conclusion that you'll wake up one morning when you're fifty, ask the mirror "What have I done with my life?", and blow your brains out. It doesn't have to happen, Chris. Being Hollywood's go-to man for aping black stereotypes is a choice, not an obligation. I don't recommend a Chappelle-caliber freak out, but you might want to put a tiny bit more thought into what you're being asked to do.

Your biggest fan,
Ed